Mumbai: Indian tennis star Rohan Bopanna hit out at the All India Tennis Association (AITA) on Tuesday for dropping him from the Davis Cup squad for the match against New Zealand in Pune, next year.
The AITA, which had appointed tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi as a replacement for Anand Amritraj as the non-playing captain of the Davis Cup side. The Davis Cup tie against New Zealand next year will be Amritraj’s last match as the non-playing captain of the side.
Subsequently, Bhupathi was dropped from the team, in order to accommodate another singles player.
Bopanna, who happens to be the highest ranked men’s doubles player from India (28), hit back at the AITA, saying that he was completely taken aback with the association’s decision.
"On December 8, I got a call from AITA asking me whether I am available for the upcoming Davis Cup tie or not. I replied in due time that I was ready to play the tie against New Zealand,” Bopanna told NDTV. “But ultimately I got to know from the media that I was not selected.
"There was not even a courtesy email from AITA that I was not part of the team. I am very hurt that no one from the federation communicated with me about the issue," he said.
According to the AITA, dropping Bopanna, who is an ad court (left side) player, was a tactical decision. Pairing him up with Leander Paes, who is also an ad court player, could be tactically disastrous, according to the Indian tennis association.
Instead, Paes has been paired-up with Saketh Myneni. Interestingly, Bopanna failed to earn a medal for India at the Rio Olympics, earlier this year, losing in the bronze medal match in mixed doubles with Sania Mirza, and being knocked out in the first round of the men’s doubles event with Paes.
However, Bopanna completely refuted this, saying that he can play on both sides.
"I am the highest ranked doubles player in India and I should have been selected,” he said. “The AITA gave some technical reason that I was not picked because I played on the ad court.
“But people in the selection committee should have done a little bit of home work. In 2012, when I was playing with Mahesh (Bhuptahi) and reached the ATP World Tour Finals, I was playing in the deuce court (right side),” he further said.
“Next year also, I am partnering a guy called Pablo Cuevas who is an ad court player. If I was only an ad court player, why should I have gone with a player proficient in the same side as mine,” quizzed a furious Bopanna.
He also went on to cite that most countries pick players on the basis of rankings, and not tactical reasons, that the AITA gave.
"All around the world, it is the ranking which is sole criteria for selection and that should be the case in India also. It makes thing simple for everyone," said Bopanna.
The 36-year-old also suggested that the AITA should follow the proper system in order to enable Indian tennis to progress.
"It's surprising why we don't have a system in place in tennis. For a bright future the AITA should follow a system to improve tennis in India," said Bopanna.